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Venezuela Closes Coca-Cola Offices on Tax Breach

Coca-Cola Femsa SA's operations in Venezuela will be forced to close for three days as the government penalizes Latin America's biggest soft-drink bottler for allegedly breaking tax rules.
Venezuela's National Tax service shut Coca-Cola plants and administrative offices, agency spokesman Wilmer Silva said today in a telephone interview from Caracas. Mexico City-based Coca- Cola Femsa said in a statement that the closure will be for two days and will affect the company's headquarters and distribution centers, not its plants.

The agency, known as Seniat, is considered the most efficient arm of President Hugo Chavez's government after collecting record tax revenue by cracking down on evasion and increasing levies on foreign oil companies. Analysts say the agency is applying tax laws selectively to intimidate companies or keep them compromised by the state.

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